No Zombies Allowed in the 24-Hour Emergency Room

Halloween and a full moon during the late shift? What could go wrong?

Fiction by Sheri White (Member, Horror Writers Association)
Photo by Ronaldo Murcia

No Zombies Allowed in the 24-Hour Emergency Room

Halloween and a full moon during the late shift? What could go wrong?

Everything, Josie thought.

Gunshot wounds, car accidents, alcohol poisoning, and drug overdoses were out of control on a good night, but Halloween took it to another level. Patients dressed up as vampires, evil clowns, and other creepy characters added an edge to the night that Nurse Josie didn’t like.

A man ran into the emergency room yelling for help. His pleading cries brought the nurses to their feet. Blood ran down his face from an ugly gash on his temple. She could see some of his brain pushing through a crack in his skull.

Josie signaled for a gurney. “Sir, can you tell me what happened to you?’ She held a gauze pad to his wound, but he waved her off.

“No, I’m fine. But my wife’s water just broke on the way to a party. She’s in the car.”

“Oh, for God’s sake,” Josie mumbled under her breath. She had the orderlies take the gurney outside, the husband anxiously running after them.

Later, a kid around 13 or 14 years old ran in, wearing no makeup or costume, but incredibly pale.

“Can someone please help me?’ he called out, his voice trembling.

Josie told the other nurses she’d take care of whatever the problem was.

“What’s your name? Are you hurt?’

“I’m Sean. My friend Bobby needs help.” His voice rose and cracked. “I think he’s dying!” Tears ran down his cheeks. He wiped them away and sniffled.

“Okay, show me where he is,” Josie said. 

They ran outside. Bobby was laying on the grass near the entrance, holding his stomach and groaning.

Josie kneeled next to him. “Bobby, I’m Josie. Can you tell me what’s wrong?’ He just groaned again.

Josie looked at Sean. “Did he take anything? Drugs, alcohol?’

“No, nothing! We didn’t take anything!”

Bobby was taken by gurney into the ER. “I need to go in there, Sean. Tell me the truth, or Bobby could die.”

Sean looked down at the grass. “We took my mom’s pain pills. But he took more than me.”

“Why would you two do that? Are you suicidal; was this a pact?”

Sean shook his head. “No, that’s not it.”

“Do you know what kind they were?”


“Tell me why you and Bobby took those drugs!”

Sean’s voice fell to a whisper. “We were playing the Zombie Game.”

“Oh, dear God. You need to come in with me right now. We need to check you out too.”

Sean took off before Josie could stop him.

“Hey, come back!”

“God damn it!” She ran inside. “We’ve got trouble, everyone. The kid just brought in was playing the Zombie Game. We need to keep him alive!”


During the zombie outbreak of 2020, it was discovered that everyone turned after death. Once the outbreak was contained, a law was put in place that every corpse had to have a bullet put in its brain to keep it from turning.

Every death had to be witnessed if possible. Anyone who died alone was to be put down by anyone who found them, whether a regular corpse or zombie.

Neighborhood watch groups would knock on the doors of the elderly and sick every day. If they got no answer, they would break in and check out the situation.

Every adult had a license to carry.

Kids became a problem. The Zombie Game became popular among teens, mostly boys. They would do whatever possible to get to the brink of death, then have a friend bring them back. 

Sometimes they would die and turn, freaking out whoever was with them. It was rare any kid had the guts to put a friend down, so usually the police were called.

Finally, Congress passed laws that made the game illegal. That didn’t stop everyone, but it lessened the danger the world now lived in.


A nurse performed compressions on Bobby, but they weren’t helping. A doctor rolled in a defibrillator and set it up.

“Clear!” the doctor called out. There was a beep and Bobby’s body jumped a few inches off the gurney, but the line on the electrocardiogram didn’t move.

The doctor tried again, but still no response. He shook his head.

“He’s gone.” He pulled a small gun from his pocket with a silencer on it, specially made for hospital staff so patients wouldn’t freak out at the sharp reports echoing through the building all day and night. The bullets were small to avoid the head exploding and creating a big mess.

Bobby’s eyes fluttered and he moaned. His skin was now ash gray. The doctor put the gun to the side of Bobby’s head and pulled the trigger.


The cops drove slowly, hoping to locate Sean and take him back to the hospital.

The job was more difficult due to so many people in costumes. Zombie costumes had been outlawed, so the police were authorized to take a head shot at any zombie in the street.

Nurse Josie had given them a detailed description, but Sean could be anywhere by now. He could be dying.

He could be dead and turned by now.

And if he were, and they didn’t find him before he found others to bite, they could face an outbreak worse than the one in 2020.


Nurse Josie looked up at the teenage girl approaching the reception desk. Globs of blood dripped from her hair, and her arm had a chunk of flesh taken from it.

Josie rolled her eyes. “What’s up, girly? You know zombie costumes are illegal, right?”

The girl moaned and lunged at the nurse’s station. Josie wheeled back on her chair, grabbed the gun from her pocket, and shot the girl in the middle of her forehead.

The zombie hit the floor with a thud, blood and brain matter spilling all over the clean white tile.

Josie called the HazMat team and the police, letting them know there was a possible outbreak in progress.

“I’m taking fifteen,” she announced to the other nurses.

Josie took the express elevator to the roof, lit a cigarette, and watched chaos unfold in the streets below.

A cacophony of emergency sirens filled the night; blue and red flashing lights brightened the dark sky. People either ran from zombies, or they were now zombies doing the chasing. Brains, blood, and viscera oozed through the streets and sidewalks.

She blew smoke rings and shook her head.“God damn, I hate the late shift.”

About the Author

pink black and yellow abstract painting

Sheri White’s stories have been published in many anthologies, including Alice Says Go Fuck Yourself (an ezine), I Cast You Out, published by CultureCult Press, 666 (Dark Drabbles, Book 11), published by Black Hare Press, Tales from the Crust (edited by Max Booth III and David James Keaton), Halldark Holidays (edited by Gabino Iglesias), and HWA’s Don’t Turn Out the Lights (edited by Jonathan Maberry). Her collection, Sacrificial Lambs and Others, was published in 2018. Sheri lives in Jefferson, Maryland with her husband Chris, their daughter Lauren, their three black cats (Lucy, Sadie, and Vlad), and two dogs (Dobie and Josie). Their other daughters Sarah and Becca fled the scene last year. In accordance with unspoken Maryland state laws, there is always a can of Old Bay in her cupboard, and she visits local breweries as often as possible.

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